Natchez man keeps busy with job, home business

Published 12:01 am Monday, March 17, 2008

NATCHEZ — A window maker by day and a medical technician by night, Danny Blake doesn’t have too much free time.

Blake, who lives on Espero Drive, makes windows for rural mail carriers in his business, Hand Free Windows.

“From October to February it keeps me pretty busy,” Blake said.

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Rural mail carriers use their own cars, and when rolling the window up and down very frequently, usually during the colder months, the automatic window motors burn out quickly.

Blake’s removable Plexiglas window goes in place of the regular car window and the driver can push it open.

Blake took over the business after his brother, the inventor, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

“It doesn’t make enough to live on but it helps during Christmas,” Blake said.

He said it usually takes him an hour and a half to put one together. This includes cutting out the design from cardboard patterns, of which Blake has a large variety.

Most rural mail carriers use Jeep Wranglers and Cherokees, he said.

The hardest pattern to create was for a 1988 Ford Ranger, he said.

“The older vehicles are hard to get patterns for if you don’t already have it,” Blake said.

After he cuts out the design, he places a rubber strip to seal the air out.

Blake said he hasn’t sold many in Mississippi but many in Louisiana and in the Northern states.

He said he sold approximately 100 last year.

There are still improvements to be made in his home business, however.

For instance, the postal department requires mail carriers to lock their cars if they leave the vehicle. Blake’s window doesn’t have a lock on it, which requires the driver to remove it completely. He’s considering how to include a lock in the window.

“I haven’t figured out a way I’d like to do it yet,” he said.

He said he’d also like to have a Web site but would have to get some help.

“I’m not that computer literate,” Blake said.

He said he is working on drafting a brochure in the meantime.

“A lot of days I stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning working on the windows,” he said.

And that’s just in his free time.

He also works at Natchez Regional Medical Center in the microbiology lab.

His hours stretch into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes working from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. or even a full 12 hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

He said the normal shift is from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. but shifts have been rearranged in response to a shortage of medical technicians.

He said the lab’s lack of much-need staffers leaves him working 50 hour weeks.

He hopes to see an end to this soon but understands that currently NRMC has bigger fish to fry.

He said he feels anxious about what is to come from the hospital’s financial struggles — pay, retirement and vacation cuts.

He’s not worried about losing his job, though.

“As long as the hospital stays open, I feel fairly secure in my job,” Blake said. “I don’t think they’ll close the hospital, I think it’ll change as we know it.”